Bachelor’s student Chris Charlesworth.
Bachelor’s student Chris Charlesworth: “There are a lot of advertisements online and I think about 90% of them say in capital letters at the beginning ‘no internationals’.” (Photo: Heather Montague)

With few options available, searching for student housing can be a long and frustrating process, says bachelor’s student Chris Charlesworth.

“My family is Australian but I grew up in Slovenia so I lived there for about 15 years. I’m doing a bachelor’s in Computer Science and this is my second year at TU Delft, but I’m still not in a long-term housing situation. I am currently in a sublet until the end of January.

The system is that for first year international students TU Delft can usually guarantee you housing. There are a limited number of places so if you’re accepted early enough and pay fast enough then you can get one. I got that last year but after the first year you’re on your own to find a place.

It’s tough if you’re Dutch and it’s tough if you’re not. I would personally say I think it’s more difficult for internationals. There are a lot of advertisements online and I think about 90% of them say in capital letters at the beginning ‘no internationals’. Right off the bat they’re just not interested. Personally, it doesn’t even feel like that should be legal or at least it doesn’t seem very ethical to me. But that’s just what it is. So then you’re dealing with about 10% of what’s left and there’s a huge amount of competition for those places.

‘Instemmingen: kind of competitions where you’re trying to find a place to live’

I went to about 12 instemmingen, kind of like competitions where you’re trying to find a place to live, and I didn’t get any of them. Sometimes it’s like a series of interviews. If it’s a really big house and lots of people live there you might have 35 or 40 people there for one room so the chances are slim. You might have to interview like six or seven times with different housemates. It’s done in rounds and then they tell certain people go home, kind of like on a TV show where winning the prize is not being homeless. I’ve been to other ones where they only interviewed a few people at certain time slots so it can be a bit more relaxed.

I need to find another place by the end of January. I’m mostly interested in a long-term situation so I don’t have to go through the same process again because it was really stressful. I know that in three months I have to start the whole process again and go through round after round of being told no. It’s quite demotivating so I would really like to not be in that position again.

I do quite a few things beside my studies. I work as a teaching assistant at the International School of Delft. I work with secondary school students teaching maths. I have worked with kids for a long time and most of the work has been private tutoring. I like to play music. I actually play in a few bands, mostly indie rock. I’m also on the board for the martial arts association at TU Delft, Yoroshi. I have done judo for a long time and it’s a great sport that I highly recommend.  

I like to work in general, I really like to keep busy. I passed all of my first-year courses so I don’t expect any delays to graduate. I would like to finish my degree in three years, but personally I don’t attach much worth to that number. It’s more about if I have a reason to do it in four, like if I have a job that’s really applicable to my future or if there’s a real reason then it won’t matter. As long as it’s a conscious decision I would be OK with taking longer. But fingers crossed, I’ll do it in three.”

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